Complex issue

Hayden, Steamboat have dibs on sports facility

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Hayden and Steamboat Springs are the only two Northwest Colorado communities to come forward with the acreage needed to build a 16- to 24-field sports complex.

But that doesn't mean Craig will lose the revenue gained by hosting Triple Crown baseball and softball games.

"Even if they build a new facility, they'll still use the fields in Hayden, Craig and Oak Creek," Craig Parks and Recreation Director Dave Pike said. "They have to if they want to grow."

He met with a Triple Crown representative Monday morning and said that not much has changed since the last time community members met with representatives of the organization.

Triple Crown organizes and markets amateur sports tournaments for youth and adult sports. Triple Crown President Dave King said the organization wouldn't return to Northwest Colorado after the current contract expires in 2007 unless new fields were built. It takes the fields of several Northwest Colorado communities to accommodate the number of games in a tournament.

Tournaments draw an estimated 5,200 participants and spectators. Surveys indicate each of those visitors spends $80 a day on food, lodging and recreation.

And, to expand those tournaments, Triple Crown wants a 16- to 24-field sports complex.

Hayden and Steamboat have offered sites. Craig City Manager Jim Ferree said no one in Craig came forward with the 120 to 160 acres Triple Crown officials says the organization needs.

From this point, Craig likely would be a spectator in the process, Pike said.

"Other than a few lottery dollars, Craig can't entice Triple Crown to come here, we just don't have the lodging," Pike said.

But Triple Crown officials said Craig fields would still be needed for tournaments, he said. They said also that if there are obstacles to the construction of a sports complex, the organization could help Craig and Hayden expand their fields, Pike said.

There will be a meeting at 2 p.m. Thursday at the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort As----sociation office to discuss the two sites proposed and look at site plans.

"Obviously there's still room for discussion," King said. "This is very early in the process."

He said he expected the site to be selected through a public process with input from people from Craig, Hayden and Steamboat.

Funding for the complex has long been a question, and it remains unanswered.

King said he hoped the three communities and Triple Crown also would invest in what would be a regional complex and that money would be used as a local match for grant dollars.

Pike said it was unlikely Craig would participate financially if a complex was built in Steamboat and there was no spillover to Craig.

An average of 20 teams play in Craig during the six to seven weekends Triple Crown games are played here. Pike estimated one tournament brings more than 500 people a day just to Woodbury Park in Craig. That doesn't include the people who play games at Loudy-Simpson Park or at the Craig Middle School field.

The Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association put up most of the $100,000 it took to bring Triple Crown for five years.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.

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